Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Claytronics, for a shape-shifting future

When it comes to vague future visions of technology, I am with CMU's professor Goldstein. He foresees to realize a technology platform that will allow for matter being fully programmable; in real time, and in three dimensions. Their own description sums it up perfectly:

"Claytronics" is an emerging field of engineering concerning reconfigurable nanoscale robots ('claytronic atoms', or catoms) designed to form much larger scale machines or mechanisms. Also known as "programmable matter", the catoms will be sub-millimeter computers that will eventually have the ability to move around, communicate with other computers, change color, and electrostatically connect to other catoms to form different shapes. The forms made up of catoms could morph into nearly any object, even replicas of human beings for virtual meetings.

Of course this is still very rudimentary, and it reminds me of a guy saying that he would be able to create the T-1000, whose proof of concept was a soccer-ball size cube sliding over another cube. A phone changing into a laptop, a physical re-instantiation of another person, and shape-shifting furniture can then become a reality, according the team. Well, nothing is impossible with the right resources and at least now a research group is working on this matter, so keep your antennas tuned.

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